The late Fr. Thomas Berry (1914-2009) was a Passionist priest, leading cultural historian, religious scholar, and self-identified “geologian.” He was the founding director of the Riverdale Center for Religious Research, and co-founder of the American Teilhard Association and Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro, Vermont, where he is buried in the Berry Sanctuary. Thomas believed that, in this moment of Earth crisis, we are poised to embrace a new vision of the world as a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects, a view which if adopted could restore us to ecological sanity. In The Great Work, he observed:
"We will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of that numinous presence whence all things came into being. Indeed, the universe is the primary sacred reality. We become sacred by our participation in this more sublime dimension of the world about us."
We are pleased to invite back to lead this one-month e-course Kathleen Deignan, CND, President-Emerita of the International Thomas Merton Society and Professor of Religious and Environmental Studies at Iona College. She received her master’s degree in the History of Christian Spirituality and her doctorate in Historical Theology from Fordham University in New York, where she studied with Fr. Berry, her mentor and one of the great inspirations of her life and ministry. After his death, she co-founded The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue, with other students of Thomas, among them her ministry colleague, Brother Kevin Cawley, CFC. We are delighted that he will co-animate this retreat and bring his own comprehensive insight and global perspective to it.
Like Kathleen, Kevin received his doctorate from Fordham University and is also a GreenFaith Fellow, participating in ongoing interfaith training for religious environmental leadership. Currently the Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College, Kevin is the main representative for Edmund Rice International at the United Nations in New York, where is engaged with the UN Environmental Program. He publishes a monthly ecological newsletter, Carbon Rangers, which has a global readership.
Kathleen and Kevin share a mission to bring ecological wisdom to faith and education communities, particularly the legacy of Thomas Berry and also the challenges of Pope Francis, whose recent letter to the world — Laudato Si — is a global summons to care for our common home. In this way they hope to contribute to The Great Work of our time: healing the human soul that we might heal the Earth.
In this exclusive e-course developed for Spirituality & Practice, Kathleen and Kevin will draw out the contemplative depth and call to practice in Berry's works. They will focus on foundational themes from his life -- like Storyteller of the Universe, Mystic of the Meadow, and Master of Creation Spirituality -- drawn from Thomas Berry: Selected Writings on the Earth Community, published by Orbis in 2014. You will receive:
- 12 emails delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, in which Kathleen and Kevin offer passages for reflection from Berry's writings and their insights into their relevance today.
- Audio clips of some of Kathleen's resonant, celebrative chants. Visit her website, Schola Ministries, or find her songs on iTunes and Spotify, if you would like to enjoy a taste in advance.
- Video clips of Thomas Berry and in-depth articles included as extra resources.
"The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity," Berry reminds us. Join us to revitalize your hope by seeing how quintessentially integral we are with the universe, and how each one of us is called to take up “The Great Work” of our time. (4 CEHs for chaplains available.)
(choose your own start date and frequency)